Processing

Weekly kill: Numbers slump in the face of flood impact

Jon Condon, 08/03/2022

FLOODING across eastern parts of Queensland earlier, and NSW this week, is being reflected in a substantial drop in slaughter across the nation.

Nationally, slaughter numbers for the week ended Saturday declined about 14,000 head on the week before, down 15pc. However individual states fared much worse, with Queensland itself dropped more than 11,000 head or 25pc on the previous week, while NSW was back 10pc (see details below).

The direct and indirect flood impact across eastern Australia continues to reverberate, with commodities like cardboard packaging materials this week in very short supply due to flooding at the Visy factory.

Containers are also again in very short supply, and road closures continue to impact cattle and materials supply.

The Queensland rail line north of Gympie was closed today due to a derailment, caused by subsidence of flood-damaged rail underfootings, limiting delivery of empty reefers to beef processors in Central Queensland, and return deliveries to port of loaded containers.

The Port of Brisbane, shut from Saturday to Thursday last week due to sunken obstructions in the Brisbane River, is re-opening in stages, but not yet back to full capacity, the Port Authority said yesterday. Quantities of chilled and frozen beef is now backing-up in cold storage in Brisbane, waiting for departure, beef Central was told.

Processors said kills this week were not likely to soak-up the deficit from last week’s closures, because labour was not immediately available to man larger shifts. It could take several weeks to clear the backlog, one large multi-site processor said.

Some Queensland processing sites recovered better than expected last week, with JBS Dinmore fearing it might lose an entire week’s kill at one point, before water and power re-connections were made promptly, allowing a small shift to get underway on Wednesday.

Nationally, slaughter numbers were down about 14,000 head on the week before, down 15pc.

However individual states fared much worse. Queensland itself dropped more than 11,000 head or 25pc on the previous week, to 33,171 head, while NSW was back 10pc to 24,499 head.

Export meat sales desks say prices into North Asian and North American markets remained buoyant this week, but pointed out that offerings out of Australia had been modest so far this year, which had helped keep prices at higher levels.

With the run into Easter traditionally a period of greater slaughter cattle turnoff, as producers start eyeing-off the arrival of winter, the big question now is: Is the next slaughter cattle price movement down?

Short killing weeks either side of Easter (14-17 April) and Anzac Day (25 April) could further reduce processors’ demand for cattle over the short-to-medium term.

However the big unknowns remain the weather, which could yet again thrown a spammer in the works in terms of trying to predict turnoff heading into winter. Some processors still say young cattle have done so well since November that they will hit ideal slaughter weights a month or two earlier than normal this year, potentially pushing more cattle forward in the next six weeks.

“There’s still not enough slaughter cattle around, full stop. But if there was ever going to be a period of heightened turnoff happening which might pressure prices, it’s likely to happen over April,” one Queensland contact said.

Grid prices steady, at record highs

Meanwhile there have been no significant changes to direct consignment slaughter cattle rates this week, after the big jumps witnessed a fortnight ago.

Best offers from competitive Queensland processors this week have four-tooth grassfed heavy ox at 820-835c/kg (depending on processor location) and heavy boner cows 775c – both all-time highs, and up another 20-25c on rates seen in mid-February.

It means a solid four-tooth grass steer carcase 360kg is this week returning the vendor a cool $3006 a head, before discounts are applied.

Southern states are again more or less on par with that

Weekly kills dive

Last week’s national beef slaughter activity for the seven days to Saturday took a steep nose-dive, as the accumulated impacts of flooding in eastern parts of Queensland and NSW took full effect.

Nationally, slaughter numbers were reduced about 14,000 head on the week before, down 15pc.

However individual states fared much worse. Queensland itself dropped more than 11,000 head or 25pc on the previous week, to 33,171 head, while NSW was back 10pc to 24,499 head.

Victoria, outside of the flood impact zone, saw numbers slip only 1pc to 11,769 head, while South Australia surged to 3864 head, up 18pc on the week before. Tasmania was unchanged at 4182 head for the week, while Western Australia’s kill dropped dramatically, falling to 2037 head, back 24pc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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